San Benito Lifestyle

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat

Tres Pinos Post Office serves as central location for rural residents even during the coronavirus pandemic.

When Rena Dortch arrives at work this time of year, she turns on a little space heater to take the chill out of her office. The building is old and has minimal insulation. Because she doesn’t have much shelf space, she stacks a lot of her inventory along the back wall, instead of in the front where her customers are.

Since Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ordered Californians to stay at home to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Dortch said a lot fewer customers are stopping in. Still, “We’re open for business,” she said.

Dortch is the postmaster for the Tres Pinos Post Office. The town, consisting of a couple dozen houses, a store and a few restaurants, has a population of 500, but the post office serves a much larger rural area.

There is no mail delivery to the ranches and country homes spread out in the rolling hills surrounding Tres Pinos, so the post office serves as a central location for the area. It hosts a bulletin board just outside with pictures of puppies for sale, offers for ironing, and used cars and trucks for sale.

People come in from nearby farms and ranches, often still dirty and in their work clothes. It is an informal place where neighbors usually linger to catch up on the news. Dortch has put a sign up on the front door as a reminder to “protect yourself and others” by keeping a distance of six feet.

“We’re operating normally. The lines are shorter and a lot of people are getting their business done online,” said Gus Ruiz, a regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service. He mentioned that some post office shipping supplies are free and people can go to the Post Office online to use its  Click and Ship service.

 

BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is working around the clock during this time when accurate information is essential. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s news.

Customers take turns getting their mail and doing business at the counter at Tres Pinos Post Office. Photo by Leslie David
Customers take turns getting their mail and doing business at the counter at the Tres Pinos Post Office. Photo by Leslie David.

The phrase, “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat . . .” has been associated with the Post Office for many years, but that is not where it came from originally. Bob Cannon, a USPS public affairs and communications officer in Boston, writes on The Phrase Finder, “The original saying was actually ‘Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds’ and was said about 2,500 years ago by the Greek historian, Herodotus. He said it during the war between the Greeks and Persians around 500 B.C. in reference to the Persian mounted postal couriers whom he observed and held in high esteem.”

The Postal Service is considered an “essential job” during the pandemic and continues with its regular hours and staff. “We’re part of the federal service and we continue to ship medicine, food and staples,” Ruiz said.

The Tres Pinos Post Office is tiny and it is a little tricky for customers to keep the recommended personal space. Area residents, some who have known one another for half a century, politely wait for their turn at the window.

The postmaster has made a few adjustments, like wiping the counter more often and posting the safety reminder, but she said otherwise things have remained pretty routine.

“We want to provide some normalcy for our customers,” Dortch said. “We’re here for their needs.”

 

BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is working around the clock during this time when accurate information is essential. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s news.

 

 

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Leslie David

Leslie David is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and is a BenitoLink founding board member. She has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she won the Commonwealth Club's Thomas Storke Award with Linda Yee for their series on the Aids Epidemic. She started as a small market news reporter shooting her own 16mm film at KEYT-TV Santa Barbara. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.